(skip to 1:40 for Rich's story)
"I was an Iraqi veteran suffering from PTSD, anxiety and depression. I had a bad lower back injury that prevented me from lifting items, standing and sitting for long periods of time. I was on several medications for my PTSD, anxiety, depression and back injury. Prior to my above mentioned injuries, I served 20 years in the U.S. Military where I was highly decorated and admired by peers and subordinates, alike. I played racquetball at least five times a week as well as softball. I enjoyed life and helping other people.
"As my injuries started to progress, I didn't want any contact with the outside world. I didn't like talking on the telephone or be in crowded places. My temper was inexcusable and I could fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. I was alienating my friends and family, and I was missing a lot of work. I tried several different things to gain control of what was happening to me, but none of these things had worked. I was on a roller coaster ride for four years. I would have some good days, but they were mostly bad. Many nights I spent crying, not knowing what I needed to do to get out of this pain I was feeling. At this time in my life I was on 17 different medications. I thought the medicine was making me feel bad, so I stopped taking them. I soon realized that I needed them to just be able to function just around the house.
"Upon my arrival back home from combat duty in Iraq, I joined the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Almost on a weekly basis I would receive e-mails from the WWP asking how I was doing, etc. Late in 2012, I received an e-mail telling of great success with equine-assisted activities and therapies for combat veterans suffering from PTSD. The e-mail went on to tell me of an organization, Ride On St. Louis, close to my house that was providing this service, and if I wanted to try it out, I could fill out an application; if selected, I could go through the classes free of charge. So I filled out the application and within a week I was put in contact with Ride On St Louis.
"Ride On St. Louis reached out to me and started working with my injuries. Immediately they treated me as a person and not a patient. They cared about my injuries and Ride On St. Louis designed a program for me so I could successfully take full advantage of what they had to offer. My first face-to-face meeting with Ride On St. Louis was of an administration-get-to-know-you formality. Ride On St. Louis was very respectful to my needs and my concerns, and told me that at any time during my therapy sessions, if I felt uncomfortable or was in pain, to let them know. During my ten week therapy session at no time was I ever in pain or uncomfortable. The sessions always started with grooming my horse (Zen) and saddling up. Ride On St. Louis takes great care-with safety always at the forefront and throughout the therapy sessions.
"The very first meeting I was very nervous, but Ride On St. Louis put me at ease right away. The results were immediate for me. I started not to miss work as much, my anger issues were going away and I always looked forward to my Thursday sessions. At the end of my ten weeks of therapy I was in a better place mentally, physically and spiritually.
"I have been away from the Ride On St. Louis program for several months now. Since the end of my therapy there, I have missed less than five days of work, I have been more active with my interests, I have attained pride in myself and I have grown professionally. I interact more in public, my mental health has improved and I have weaned myself off of my medications. In addition, I have gone from seeing my mental health professional on a weekly basis, to seeing him only twice a year (for a basic mental health check). The last visit I had, I was told that I was doing remarkable!
"This was all possible through Ride On St. Louis. From the very first moment they treated me nicely and helped me to become a person again. Their training and professionalism is top notch."